Blake Dietrick ’15 scored 26 points, but the Tigers couldn’t keep pace with the host Terrapins. (Beverly Schaefer)
Princeton women’s basketball faced an unenviable challenge in its second-round NCAA Tournament game: a matchup against No. 4 Maryland on its home floor, where the Terrapins have not lost in nearly 14 months.
For the first 20 minutes, the Tigers were up to the task, keeping pace with a stellar offensive performance, particularly in the paint. Maryland led by just four at halftime, 42-38.
But after the break, Princeton’s fortunes turned. In one stretch, the Tigers missed six shots in a row while the Terrapins made all five of their attempts — plus two free-throws — and jumped ahead by 17.
Point guard Blake Dietrick ’15 did her best to will the Tigers back into contention, scoring 17 of her team-high 26 points after her team fell behind by double digits. But Maryland’s hot shooting never cooled. Princeton lost for the first time this season, 85-70. Continue reading
Olivia Hompe ’17 leads Princeton with 19 goals, including five in Saturday’s win over Harvard. (Office of Athletic Communications)
As it nears the midway point in the regular season, Princeton women’s lacrosse continues to look impressive. The Tigers are off to a 6-1 start (2-0 Ivy League) with their lone loss coming at No. 8 Virginia. On Saturday, the team delivered head coach Chris Sailer’s 350th career win with a 17-12 victory over Harvard, Sailer’s alma mater. Sailer, now in her 29th season at Princeton, has coached three national champions and 11 Final Four teams. In the weeks to come, Princeton enters the bulk of its Ivy season and prepares for another NCAA postseason run.
With the exception of No. 1 Maryland April 8, the Tigers have already faced their toughest non-Ivy competition. Wins against No. 9 Loyola and No. 11 Penn State have put Princeton in a strong position going into the rest of the season. Last year, the Tigers didn’t receive the Ivy’s automatic bid to play in the NCAA tournament, but earned an at-large bid due to strength of schedule and victories over ranked opponents.
“Getting that NCAA automatic bid is always a goal, but then again, we want to be a team that’s also able to qualify for the NCAAs as an at-large selection as well,” Sailer said. “To do that, you have to schedule a competitive slate of nonconference games and win more than your fair share.” Continue reading
Annie Tarakchian ’16 (Office of Athletic Communications)
Against Wisconsin-Green Bay March 21, the undefeated Princeton women’s basketball team found itself in an unusual position, trailing at halftime for the first time since early November.
But after intermission, the Tigers reasserted themselves inside, led by 14 second-half points by Annie Tarakchian ’16 and 13 from Alex Wheatley ’16, and earned an 80-70 win, the first NCAA Tournament victory in program history.
Princeton’s defense improved in the second half, pushing Green Bay out to the perimeter, where the Phoenix settled for 3-point attempts. Midway through the second half, Princeton opened up a 10-point lead and held the Green Bay at arm’s length for the next eight minutes. The Phoenix cut the lead to four with 2:14 remaining. Wheatley then upped the lead to six with a layup, and the Tigers forced two Green Bay turnovers in the final two minutes. Continue reading
Princeton, ranked No. 13 in the AP and USA Today polls last week and No. 12 in the NCAA’s rating percentage index (RPI), has a chance to earn a home game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Selections and pairings will be announced tonight at 7 p.m. (Beverly Schaefer)
In chasing a perfect season and an Ivy League title, the Princeton women’s basketball team performed with an entertaining blend of precision, speed, flair, and grit. The only element missing from most games was suspense: Other than a 56-50 win at Yale in mid-February, the Tigers’ Ivy wins tended to be lopsided by halftime. Their average margin of victory through the first 13 league games was 26 points.
But in the Ivy finale March 10, second-place Penn provided a proper test for a team vying to finish the only undefeated regular season in Division I women’s basketball this year. Princeton was held to just 26 first-half points, and shortly after intermission, the Quakers trimmed the Tigers’ five-point lead down to one.
Then, as it had so many times before, Princeton’s defense took charge. In a nine-minute stretch, Penn managed to score just four points and turned the ball over five times. By the time the Quakers’ offense revived, the Tigers held a double-digit lead. They went on to win 55-42.
“You want to battle, and that’s what we love about playing Penn,” head coach Courtney Banghart said afterward. “It makes for such a great story, and that’s how I categorize my team: This team has made for a great story all year. … We’re certainly glad we can help the story continue.”
Three weeks before the men’s tennis team starts its Ivy League season, the conference is shaping up to be one of the toughest that Princeton has seen in years. As the Tigers rounded out this weekend’s 7-0 double-header victories over Army and Binghamton, Princeton solidified its spot on the national stage. Yet even at No. 25 in Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings, Princeton is the third-best Ivy team in what could be one of the most exciting seasons in Ancient Eight history.
Zack McCourt ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)
Leading the pack is senior Zack McCourt, ranked 124th in singles and a member of last year’s first-team All-Ivy League singles team, building on that season with multiple clutch victories at the No. 1 spot this year. McCourt said that he is trying to end his collegiate career with “a punch and a bang,” with mental maturation and match-day focus being a critical component of that. A strong Ivy schedule only adds fuel to the fire.
“Competing at a higher level helps the team to improve even faster, so it’s definitely a privilege — particularly when you’re being tested on a national scale,” McCourt said.
The Tigers were forced to fill holes in their roster left by Ivy heavyweight Matija Pecotic ’13 and last year’s graduates Dan Davies and Augie Bloom. Sophomores Thomas Colautti and Alexander Day have been instrumental in adding depth to the lineup and clinching wins in the hot 13-3 start to this season. More importantly, McCourt added, is that this year’s team just loves to compete.
“The sophomore class returns with invaluable experience, while a deep freshman class fortifies the remainder of the lineup,” McCourt said. “I can’t remember ever playing with a group of guys who have so much fun on the court as our team does now. That kind of competitiveness coupled with the team’s talent and outstanding work ethic has made all the difference.” Continue reading
On Senior Night, all seniors traditionally start, even those who usually come off the bench. The seniors of the women’s basketball team, however, were less interested in that tradition than in preserving something else: their undefeated record. Seniors Mariah Smith ’15, Alex Rodgers ’15, and Jess Shivers ’15 told head coach Courtney Banghart they didn’t want to start.
“That’s the kind of senior class they’ve been,” Banghart said. “They have decided what’s important to them. What’s important to them is that the group excels.”
From left, the Princeton women’s basketball Class of 2015: Mariah Smith, Alex Rodgers, Blake Dietrick, and Jess Shivers. (Beverly Schaefer)
Of course, Banghart showed her appreciation for the group by starting them against Brown anyway. Rodgers and Shivers had an assist and a rebound apiece while Smith contributed eight points. It was the first time this season any of the three had started — only Smith had ever started at Princeton — but it only served to highlight the ways they have contributed to the team.
While Blake Dietrick ’15, the fourth senior on this year’s squad, has carved out a place in the record books and received attention from the national media, her classmates have helped hold the team together in ways that are harder to discern. Career substitutes, they have learned to gauge the tempo of the game, the feelings of the crowd and the mindset of both teams, mentally preparing to provide a shot of energy when Banghart calls them into action.
“They’re kind of my assistant coaches,” Banghart said. “They know that their piece in [the game plan] is the energy on the bench and all that.” Continue reading